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Toyota retools the Tacoma to compete in a tougher truck market

<i>Toyota</i><br/>The new Tacoma Trailhunter is the most off-road-capable version.
The new Tacoma Trailhunter is the most off-road-capable version.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN

(CNN) — The Toyota Tacoma has been the best-selling mid-sized pickup in America for the last 20 years but its territory is getting much more competitive. To help it stay ahead in a crowded auto-industry battle for small-truck customers, Toyota just unveiled an entirely new Tacoma. It includes some options more associated with luxury SUVs and others for those who want to get far from the comforts of civilization.

The Tacoma is often affectionately referred to as just the Taco and, as with tacos, there’s a big menu of options. New Tacoma engines include a hybrid and there’s a new extra-rugged off-road model, too.

In the United States, market share for mid-size pickups, currently 3.6% of all new vehicles sold, has more than doubled over the past decade, according to data from

The average price paid for smaller trucks has also shot up a lot as buyers add on features and options, said Ivan Drury, an industry analyst with The reason is simply that buyers like the functionality. Plus, with modern, sophisticated suspension systems and plush interiors, buyers can enjoy a comfortable experience, he said.

The new Tacoma will have to compete against trucks like the recently unveiled Ford Ranger, as well as GM’s recently redesigned GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado and the Nissan Frontier.

The Tacoma’s new extra-rugged Trailhunter off-road version will go up against trucks like the Jeep Gladiator and a new GMC Canyon AT4X AEV model.

The least expensive base model of the 2024 Tacoma will have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 228 horsepower. Slightly more expensive Tacomas will have basically the same turbocharged engine but tuned to produce 278 horsepower, the same as the current Tacoma’s V6.

A manual transmission, an extremely rare feature in modern trucks but one sought after by many off-road enthusiasts, will also be available.

The new Tacoma will also be available with Toyota’s i-Force Max hybrid system, which — according to Toyota — is designed for towing and hauling power and not focused purely on fuel economy.

In the Tacoma, the 2.4-liter engine with the hybrid system will have a total output of 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, a measure of raw pulling power.

Based on the current Tacoma, prices can be expected to range from about $30,000 to $50,000. Prices for the new truck will be announced when it goes on sale.

Popular with off-road enthusiasts, the new Tacoma will be available in several different off-road-focused versions: the TRD Pro, TRD Off-road, and the new Trailhunter model.

The TRD Pro will have the hybrid engine system with suspension and shock absorbers designed for higher-speed off-road driving. It will also have front seats with built in adjustable shock absorbers to keep occupants steady even when driving fast over rocks and uneven terrain.

TRD Off-Road, on which the hybrid system will be optional, will be engineered for more rugged terrain. There will also be TRD PreRunner and TRD Sport models intended more for on-road driving.

The Trailhunter version, which will have the iForce Max hybrid system, will ride on big 33-inch diameter tires and specially designed off-road suspension making it up to 2 inches higher off the ground than the base model. It will also have a special air intake snaking up the side of the passenger cabin taking clean air to the engine far from where the tires will be kicking up dust.

The most luxurious version will be the Tacoma Limited. Standard equipment on the Limited will include power retractable side steps to make it easier to get up into the truck and automatically adjusting suspension, features more common in luxury SUVs. A new 10-speaker stereo is also available with one removable speaker that can be taken outside the truck.

Most of the new tacos will go on sale later this year but the trucks with the i-Force hybrid system won’t be available until the spring of 2024.

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